In New York, a hotel for powernappers opens at $14 a snooze

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The Independent US

It was one of those mornings when I knew from the moment the alarm sounded that I was short of sleep. An hour later in my Midtown office I am still dozy but I know that my ergonomic office chair is not quite ergonomic enough to catch any discreet shut-eye.

It was one of those mornings when I knew from the moment the alarm sounded that I was short of sleep. An hour later in my Midtown office I am still dozy but I know that my ergonomic office chair is not quite ergonomic enough to catch any discreet shut-eye.

Maybe it's time to sample MetroNaps, a new spot not too far away inside the Empire State Building that I have resisted visiting for some time. I mean, who ever heard of paying for a powernap? But then I reason that we pay for water nowadays so why not for something even more natural, the need to recharge?

In a converted office on the 24th floor of the skyscraper, MetroNaps feels at first like one of those airport lounges. After registering at a front desk, I am ushered into a darkened room. Ranged along its walls are seven sleeping pods. The airline theme continues: the pods are like those not-quite-flat seats you get at the front of the plane nowadays. The white noise buzzing from loudspeakers sounds like air rushing by at 34,000ft.

But the seats are more Barbarella than British Airways, with white, fibreglass hoods. As I install myself, my legs extended out in front of me, I briefly think I have come in for an MRI scan. "Enjoy your nap," says the hostess as she settles a blanket over my legs and shows me my headset.

The owner of MetroNaps, Arshad Chowdhury, has done his research. The sounds are of tinkling streams, distant bird calls and melodic chords. A light in the pod is switched off and aside from the dim glow of lights on the walls, I am fairly much in the dark.

Chowdhury, drawing on sleep studies, has also determined that for our $14 [£8] we will only get 20 minutes to rest our bones. This puts me into something of a panic. Sleep now, I order myself, or I have wasted my money. Has it been 10 minutes yet, 15 minutes? Why am I still awake?

I am almost there when I am aware of movement next to me. A young woman climbs into the neighbouring pod. Damn, now I am completely awake.

Then time really is up and the seat suddenly begins to vibrate strongly and a light comes on in the hood above. I climb out of my pod and make use of the lemon face spritz on a nearby counter and eat a mint. My body seems heavy and I have slight pins and needles. Am I more relaxed than when I arrived? For sure. And I want another sleep but I am damned if I am going to pay 14 more bucks for it.

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